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succession of the strongest imaginable cases: Though I speak with the tongues of men "and of angels, and have not charity, I am "become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cym"bal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, " and understand all mysteries, and all know"ledge; and though I have all faith, so that I "could remove mountains, and have not cha"rity, I am nothing. And though I bestow "all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not "charity, it profiteth me nothing." God will not accept me, the Apostle confesses, in consideration of these eminent attainments and works, although certain of them are specially His gifts, unless they be duly qualified by charity. The reason we may easily discern to be, because, apart from this qualification, they cannot be exercised with a becoming regard to His will. A person destitute of charity, or love, however he may do, in many respects, the same things with one who has it, cannot do them with an acceptable intention. All the works of an uncharitable man will be done through strife, or vain-glory, or some other impulse of the fleshly mind. He will principally care, not to magnify God, and to please and edify his neighbour, but to advance his own separate reputation and interest-to serve and magnify
himself. His most noble talents and acquirements will be employed by him to this unworthy end, and his most splendid sacrifices will be nothing better than mere obstinacy, or selfish calculations. Most of us, it is probable, are sufficiently convinced, that superior knowledge and abilities, even in religious matters, may exist without charity, and so fail of commending a man to God; but the case last imagined, of one giving all his goods to feed the poor, and moreover his body to be burned, and still being accounted as nothing, for want of that indispensable grace, is somewhat more difficult to apprehend. Yet such may seem to be not an impossible case. Suppose a man to bestow all, or a great part of his goods, upon the poor, with a view (like that of Absalom, 2 Sam. xv. 1-6.) to steal their hearts, and induce them to aid him in some evil purpose, by which he expects to get more again; suppose a man obstinate enough (which some have been) to undergo the torment of fire, rather than submit to the shame of confessing and retracting a falsehood, which he hath advanced, or, to die not forgiving his persecutors; herein, certainly, is no proper charity, no genuine love, nothing dear or precious in the sight of heaven. "Charity," says the Apostle," rejoiceth not in ini quity, but rejoiceth in the truth :" the cases,
however, which have been here supposed, are of one bribing the needy to commit iniquity for him, and of another sacrificing his body for a lie. Assuredly characters of this description cannot hope to receive a recompense from the Lord. Their works are not done in charity; therefore they must either commend themselves, or deceive their fellow creatures into commending them, for God will never award to such the meed of His praise or approbation. But if the expenditure of a man's whole substance, or of his life, may thus be worthless, as wanting the savour of charity, how shall any one easily be sure of its existence within himself, or consider it an ingredient which may be dispensed with,
the mixture of his ordinary conduct. There is clearly need then, that we follow continually after charity-meaning the love of God and of our neighbours-because it is the most necessary principle of righteousness unto eternal life: and, at the same time, we should always remember, that a very captivating form of the grace in question may be exhibited apart from, and sometimes even in opposition to, the power of it. A man may do what shall be reckoned exceedingly charitable, and nevertheless, while his fellow creatures are admiring him, really be, as wanting charity, of no proper worth or goodness.
Further; it will behove us to follow after charity, by reason of the comfort which will thence accrue to our condition. For our good always, more than for an exercise of His just authority over us, is charity so positively required by Him to whom we must give account. We are earnestly admonished to seek and ensue this virtue, not only because without it we are nothing, but because with, or possessing it, we possess an efficient alleviation of all the vexations which can beset us in the world. Of thus much every one must be convinced, on hearing now repeated the description given of charity by the Apostle: "Charity," he teacheth, "suf"fereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; "charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, "doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not " her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no “evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth "in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all "things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (1 Cor. xiii. 4-7.) A charitable man, coming up to this description, is evidently better provided than any other against the piercings and buffetings of adversity. He enjoys the blessing of a mental constitution unapt either to receive, or suffer by injuries. Considering his inoffensive conversation, nothing short of downright malice can conceive a purpose to disturb, or
work him harm. Indeed, the malicious are soon weary or ashamed of meddling with such a man, who will in no wise attempt to return their malignity. And however still he may have to experience many troubles, yet he is not greatly affected by them. Suppose him to have been wounded ever so deeply and sorely, he has a mind apt or disposed to heal. Let his heart be cruelly lacerated, it will not thereupon inflame, and rankle, and fester, like the heart of an uncharitable man, but will rather presently cease from smarting, and become easy, by virtue of the grace therein abiding. Or should another and another stroke succeed, under even such distressing circumstances, charity furnishes a never-failing relief. After the manner of a healing balm, she gently assuages the wounds of affliction, which come too fast and thick for her to cure, and, in all time of tribulation, effectually prevents the aggravated pains which are sure to ensue, when a man frets against the Lord, or against his neighbours.
No one who will duly consider the descrip↓ tion which hath been given of charity, and least of all the man who in any good degree hath come up to it, can deny its influences to be such as above stated, on the various evils which we are appointed here to undergo. Wherefore, or